Scream For Me

Karen Rose
2008, Romantic Suspense
Grand Central Publishing, $16.99, 436 pages, Amazon ASIN 0446509205
Part of a series

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Warm

This review may contain spoilers for Die for Me by Karen Rose, a previous book in the series.

Like many of you all, I rely on AAR reviews when I want to try new authors. Last year, I read the review of Karen Rose's Die For Me, and went out and bought it. After I read it, I went back to the store and bought all of Karen Rose's books and read them one after another. Right now, I'd count Rose as the best romantic suspense writer out there.

Daniel Vartanian, agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, is still reeling from the events that were described in Die For Me. For years, Daniel thought that his sociopathic brother Simon was dead. However, their father had concealed the fact that Simon was still alive and that deception lead to Mr. and Mrs. Vartanian's deaths, along with many others. Simon's evil lives on. Back when he was a teen, Simon belonged to a "club" whose members drugged and gang raped young women. They also photographed their activities and used the pictures for blackmail. The photos were concealed by Daniel and Simon's father, but Daniel discovered them. Now a young woman in Dutton, Georgia has been raped and murdered and the details surrounding the crime mirror the details of the pictures taken by Simon and his friends. Simon is there a copycat killer, or have some of the other members of the club decided to revive it?

During the course of the investigation, Daniel meets Alex Fallon. Alex's past was almost as horrific as Daniel's, and she is afraid the missing woman is her cousin Bailey. Bailey was once a drug addict and for a time, Alex had despaired of her, but Bailey overcome her addiction, took a job and determined to make a good life her herself and her daughter Hope. But Bailey has disappeared, Hope is traumatized, and will not speak, and more bodies begin to pile up.

The plot of Scream For Me is complex and I will admit there were times I was a bit lost. I plan to re-read it later just so I can straighten out the twists and turns. I was handicapped by beginning to read during finals week when I was grading papers, and really, a book like this demands the reader's full attention. About halfway through, I set the exams aside and spent several hours reading a breakneck speed - I simply did not want to put the book down.

Daniel and Alex are wonderful, wounded characters. Both went through hell, but rather than beat themselves up over it, each turned outward to help, he with the GBI and she as a nurse. They don't deny their backgrounds, nor do they ignore the guilt they feel for their family's sins and deceptions, but they don't wallow in guilt, and they don't allow others to define them. They are realistic characters, strong but vulnerable, and they make a fantastic couple. The supporting characters are equally fantastic and one of them, Daniel's friend Luke Papadopoulos, will probably get his own book next - all the signs are there - and given Karen Rose's track record, it will probably be fantastic.

I really enjoy romantic suspense and I especially like it if the author doesn't ignore the romance or just tack it on as an afterthought. Karen Rose doesn't - the romance in her books flows very naturally from the story and the characters. It never seems tacked on, but instead the reader will say, "Yes this is right, these characters belong together." Karen Rose's characters are very real. You will not find overbearing chest thumping alpha males nor silly TSTL women in peril. Her characters are realistic, they make realistic mistakes, they act like a normal, intelligent person would act, all very refreshing.

With Scream For Me, Karen Rose makes the move into hardcover. When a favorite author of mine does this, I either sigh and decide to wait for the library copy or bite the bullet, clip some coupons and buy the hardcover. I know that Karen Rose will fall into the latter category of authors. Romantic suspense just doesn't get much better.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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